Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It's The Wheel

Wheels- They make the bike go around. These are from Red Bear Products
You know, I was thinking again about wheels. They are a funny thing, especially when it comes to bicycles. Without them, bicycles are impossible. Wheels are obviously super important, but they even helped define things besides the bicycle. In fact, the front wheels on the old "ordinary" rigs were so big, overshadowing the tiny rear stabilizer wheels, early riders were dubbed "Wheelmen".

Yes- it's all about the wheel. 

Wheels even tick people off for no other reason than they are different from each other. Maybe some people feel threatened that their wheel size will disappear, while others may think you do not need a different wheel size. People get all uppity or.........whatever. 

In my opinion, they are all good as bicycles. I've always been of that mind, but I also like choices and when you have a choice, why not use the best one? Well, maybe when it doesn't fit your aesthetic, or your marketing, I guess. We've all seen that for sure.

So wheels get peoples panties all twisted up, but what's really important is that wheels- more than anything else on your bike- affect performance negatively or positively. I speak in terms of the complete wheel, by the way. Tire, tube, (if you roll that way), spokes, rims, and hubs. You can have the best bits on your frame, the greatest frame material ever, and if you have crappy wheels, it really ruins it all. Wheels are where it's at. That's why I cannot fathom why some companies put bad wheels on bikes for entry level customers.

Guitar Ted on a KOS cruiser with 26" wheels. "It was fun", he said.
You know, those bad wheels have spokes that fail, and that really harshes folks shred. Why do that to them? I'll tell ya why, because companies are cheaping out on entry level bikes where folks "won't notice" it when they shop, so they can have a lower price than the competition. Once they are hooked, then it's the bike shops that look bad because the wheels don't hold up.

They really shouldn't do things that way, because people want their wheels to be reliable, strong, and long lasting. Not cheap. It's embarrassing, really. Shops shouldn't have to deal with that at all, but the industry keeps shoving these potential failures at unsuspecting new cyclists and they seem to think there is no other way. Nice. Way to build excitement for future cycling.

There is that, and another pet peeve of mine, and that is wheels that aren't meant for overweight folks, or bigger folks. Wheels are "tune-able". You can build them to suit the needs of individual riders, or groups of riders. Yet the industry makes wheels for entry level bicycles with the same components in size extra small, small, medium, large, and XL. Really? So, a person that weighs a buck-forty rides the same wheel as someone that weighs twice as much? Which wheel will fail? You guessed it, the ones on the XL bikes. Not to mention many of the size Large bikes as well.

Then you have wheels that can be built for a purpose, you know, like touring, or commuting. Yet many of these bikes have worthless weight carrying wheel sets. Why even bother putting rack mounts on a bike if you spec it with a sub-par wheel, or a wheel meant for a racing bike? It's just so stupid, yet it happens in this industry all the time. You'd think these people would have a clue about wheels.

Maybe someday things will come around and the bike industry will place more importance on good quality wheels at all levels of the pricing spectrum. Maybe they will start pushing the marketing towards educating folks on what makes a strong, reliable, functional wheel set, instead of trying to make the cheapest wheel set to get the pricing lower than "Brand X".

Maybe I'm a dreamer.......

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